Spanish football’s elite top flight, La Liga, is undoubtedly the dominant force in European football in recent times, providing six of the last eight finalists in the Champions League, as well as six of the last nine winners.
It doesn’t stop there either, with teams from Spain also ruling the roost in Europe’s second tier tournament, the Europa League, taking four of the last six editions, highlighted by triumphs for goal happy Sevilla in 2014, ’15 and ’16.
Enthused by a domestic league bursting with quality and rivalry, Betting Directory’s Tom Lee, a regular visitor to Spain and its football grounds, takes a weekly look at the best bets on the fixture list…
That Spanish top flight’s seventh match day of the campaign, the last before yet another dreaded international break, sees Alaves desperately trying to hoist themselves out of a barren spell which is yet to yield a single point or indeed a goal away from home this season, a buoyant and extremely fun to watch Real Betis heading to San Sebastian for a huge test against Real Sociedad, as well as what should be a highly entertaining encounter as a re-born Valancia take on Athletic Bilbao at the Mestalla.
I’ll be waiting ’til Sunday for a three game combination consisting of the following:
Not everyone agreed with the signing of Paulinho, the Super Cup was a disaster, Valverde had the hard task of hitting the ground running in the dugout, Dembele got injured almost immediately, Neymar decided the banks of the Seine were a better place to sunbathe than Barceloneta, yet FC Barcelona have started the campaign in utterly blistering fashion, scoring 20 and conceding only two, as they sit top with maximum points.
Bizarrely, presumably because they’d had a fall and a bang on the head, someone at Las Palmas thought it’d be a good idea to get rid of their brilliant manager, Manolo Marquez, earlier this week, this despite the islanders winning two of their six games already.
That looks an extremely poor decision, and it’ll be damage limitation for Las Palmas when they are the visitors at the Nou Camp on Sunday afternoon (3.15pm), a side who really should have been proudly lead out by their now departed Catalan coach.
I’ll take Barca to win comfortably, to nil. A 21/20 chance with a couple of bookies.
A pair of games kick off at 5.30pm, both of which can go the way of the home sides…
Athletic Bilbao haven’d had much recovery time since Thursday night’s frustrating Europa League defeat, a 1-0 damp squib against the Russian side Zorya Luhansk, and it’s worth bearing in mind their brittle league form leading up to that game, defeats against Las Palmas of all people, as well as Atletico Madrid, plus allowing a healthy advantage to slip when pegged back to draw 3-3 away to struggling Malaga.
That could spell trouble when they face an upwardly mobile Valencia away from home, with the hosts scoring for fun at present and high on life after winning 3-2 away to Real Sociedad last Sunday.
I expect their good run to continue, with Valencia 4/5 chances with any of Betfair Sportsbook, Hills or Victor.
Lastly, this season is shaping up to be a real struggle for tiny Eibar, and their troubles could well be intensified as they face a very tricky journey to face Villarreal at El Madrigal.
Only two places separate them in the league table, but with Villarreal (especially at home) it’s looking a case of onwards and upwards, whereas Eibar where a shambles at home to Celta Vigo last weekend, and shipped six at the Nou Camp the time before.
It could be a long season for them, particularly if Villarreal get all three points here.
Sunday’s best bets in La Liga:
3.15pm – Barcelona v Las Palmas – Barcelona to win to nil @ 21/20 (BetVictor or Boylesports)
5.30pm – Valencia v Athletic Bilbao – Home win @ 4/5 (Betfair Sportsbook, BetVictor or William Hill)
5.30pm – Villarreal v Eibar – Home win @ 5/6 (William Hill)